PUNCHED, kicked and mugged on the streets of her own city - 21-year-old Mairead Scott is still recovering from a horrific late-night ordeal during which she was set on by a gang of thugs.
Like any young person on a weekend night, Mairead had been out socialising with friends in Dublin's Temple Bar.
But just hours later, she became the target of one of the 'mugging gangs' that have plagued our capital in recent times. The Dublin graduate had just crossed Ha'penny Bridge when she and her friend were set on by up to 10 people.
What followed was a frightening, violent and entirely unprovoked attack.
Mairead was left with bruises on her head, along with cuts and marks on her legs.
Her phone and personal belongings were snatched while she lay on the ground, trying to shield herself from further injury.
But far more frightening were the psychological effects that have left her fearful in her own city.
Paradoxically, Mairead had spent a summer working in Nairobi -- one of the world's most dangerous cities.
But just weeks after her return, the college graduate was assaulted and robbed in the city she calls home.
"I spent the summer in Nairobi and had absolutely no problems. It was a wonderful experience. But then, when I arrived back to the city I'm from, I have the most awful experience. I was very shaken, to be honest. They made absolutely sure they were going to mug me and my friend Niall."
Like many victims, the thought of strangers going through her private belongings made her feel very uneasy.
"The thought of them going through my phone and looking at my photos messages -- it's really creepy. I'm never going to get those things back. Pictures and messages contain memories and can't be replaced," she told the Herald.
Gardai described the attack as "unprovoked and calculating".
"Two girls came up to me and said, 'Give me your bag'. I ignored them, but next thing I realised I was on the ground and getting kicked and hit," explained Mairead. "More people then came out of nowhere -- we reckon there were up to 10, most of them men. I tried to stop them taking my bag, but it was ripped out of my hands."
"You don't expect this to happen on your own doorstep. This group also mugged my friend and another individual. It's very upsetting.
"I've often walked from the South Side right up to the North Circular Road on my own and I've never had reason to worry."
A PARENT'S WORST NIGHTMARE Mairead's dad Eamon
IT's the phone-call every parent dreads. The gardai phone in the early hours to say there's been an 'incident'.
Thankfully, an immediate confirmation that my 21-year-old daughter Mairead was all right brought reassurance.
But it's 3.15am and she's been mugged coming home from Temple Bar with a friend.
She's been taken to Store Street to give a statement and she's coming home in a garda car. We get out of bed and await the knock on the door. It's seems like an eternity before she finally comes in the door and bursts into tears.
Four months earlier, we had been a little uncomfortable with her decision to travel to Kenya during the summer and my concern levels ratcheted up a couple of notches when I discovered that Kenya shared a border with Somalia.
But it all had worked out and she had fantastic experiences, visiting Rwanda and Tanzania, going on safari and climbing the foothills of Kilimanjaro in between teaching in Nairobi.
So you can understand the absolute irony that my wife Pat and I feel as parents that our daughter was mugged on one of Dublin's iconic landmarks having traipsed all over Europe and a large swath of Africa with nothing more than a few mosquito bites to show.
When she arrived home after being attacked, she was traumatised, showing the signs of her encounter with what gardai described as a 'feral gang' of street bandits.
But it wasn't Nairobi or Kigali. No, this was Dublin, her home town, it was the Ha'penny Bridge and the thugs were all Dubliners -- and not one non-national accent among them, as some might have thought.
Mairead's rage and anger was shared by us as she recounted her unprovoked, callous assault. Picked on from behind by a gang of teenagers, dragged by the hair to the ground, kicked and screamed at as she curled in a foetal position to try to protect herself and hold on to her bag.
Then we learnt that the perpetrators had had the temerity to hold up another couple within minutes of mugging Mairead.
You read of incidents like this in the paper, and you thank your lucky stars that it's not your daughter or son who is the victim. But this time it's different, because it's real and you were not there to help.
The longer you think about it, the more you become enraged. That this happened to one of your own, and, but for the grace of God, the injuries were not life-changing. And all for a few quid or a phone the cowardly thieves will flog to some backstreet huckster.